By Cole Parkinson
The often talked about intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 864 may soon look different in the near future.
With both the Municipal District of Taber and the Town of Taber being vocal in their view of adding a set of traffic lights due to a high volume of car accidents, it may soon be a reality.
“There has been a lot of discussion over, I don’t know how many years, about the safety of that intersection. Alberta Transportation has always said it doesn’t warrant them to use their standards for traffic lights however it appears they are willing to work with you a little bit,” said Jack Dunsmore, director of planning and infrastructure, at the M.D.’s regular meeting on March 13.
With the potential of construction of traffic lights at the intersection it would lead to a one-third cost share between the M.D. of Taber, Alberta Transportation and the Town of Taber.
“I just got off the phone with Transportation and they are preparing a tender document as we speak. If both the town and the M.D. were in agreeance with this then they would put it out to tender and have it done in 2018, if the town and M.D. agree to the a third, a third, a third,” said Dunsmore.
The total cost of the construction is slated at $750,000 which includes intersection improvement and engineering.
Each faction would be on the hook for $250,000 of the total cost.
“I think the town (of Taber) has had similar conversations. My personal opinion is it is an opportunity that we should probably take up,” said Reeve Brian Brewin. “It’s been 10 years of requesting this with nothing.”
The possibility of having the project completed very soon had many councillors share their opinion they should move forward.
“It’s been something we’ve been pushing for quite a few years and if we can get it to where we see it happen, whether it’s this year or next, we’ll have to decide,” added Deputy Reeve Merrill Harris.
One minor speed bump for council is this project is not currently in the 2018 budget but council can quickly remedy that.
“It is not in the 2018 budget but you could amend the interim budget at any time if you so desire,” said Derrick Krizsan, CAO for the M.D. of Taber.
The Town of Taber meanwhile has put $300,000 into their 2018 budget for the lights and council voted unanimously for funding to be allocated from capital reserves.
Even without the project in the budget, the M.D. has a few different way they can go about moving forward. One potential solution brought up was to tie the new tender to the project for the new M.D. shop lights and in doing the two projects at the same time, it would provide the M.D. with cost savings.
With the shop lights project already approved by Alberta Transportation, Dunsmore says that there should be no issue with tying the two together.
“That was part of the conversation this morning, they asked if the M.D. was wanting to do that. We had them tied into the overlay tender for next year, it was supposed to be 2018 but it’s now delayed a year. If we want to move it from that tender to the traffic light tender, Transportation would be more than willing to do that,” he said.
As both the M.D. and the Town of Taber have been vocal in the past in getting this project done rather quickly, that has yet to come to fruition.
That being said, councillors were in agreement that moving forward on this project right now would be the best way of ensuring it gets done.
“It’s a busy intersection and it’s not getting any slower, it’s going to continue to get busier. The sooner it’s done, the better, I think,” said Coun. John Turcato.
Another potential hurdle that may present itself is the upcoming provincial election.
With the chance of political turnover it may disrupt the ability to get traffic lights installed in a quick manner.
“If it’s something we want, we better do it now because otherwise we could be waiting till after the election and we don’t know if it will come forward after,” added Coun. Tamara Miyanaga.
A motion was made to indicate to Alberta Transportation that the M.D. was willing to move forward with the one-third cost share agreement while also tying it to the shop light project and to amend the interim 2018 budget. The motion was passed unanimously.